LILY LANGTRY: BEAUTIFUL, SCANDALOUS, FASCINATING AND HIGH SOCIETY THEATRE ACTRESS

This cabinet card features British actress, Lillie Langtry (1853-1929). She was born on the island of Jersey, was known as the “Jersey Lily”,  and was known for her beauty. She had many prominent lovers including the future King of England, Edward VII. At 20 years of age she married a wealthy Irish landowner, Edward Langtry and quickly became part of London’s high society. Due to her great beauty, she became a sought after model for a number of well known portrait painters. Beginning 1877, she had a three year affair with the Prince of Wales, Albert Edward. At the suggestion of close friend, Oscar Wilde, she began a stage career. She made her debut in “She Stoops to Conquer” (1881) at the Haymarket Theatre in London. She then embarked on the first of many United States theatre tours where she was a resounding success. She continued to have a number of affairs including a relationship with New York City millionaire, Frederic Gebhard with whom she became very involved in the sport of thoroughbred horse racing. In 1897 she became an American citizen. She is known as one of the early celebrities to make money endorsing commercial products. Among the products she advertised were cosmetics and soap.   The photographer of this cabinet card is famed celebrity photographer, Mora, of New York City. The image was copyrighted in 1884. To see other images by Mora, click on this site’s category of “Photographer: Mora”.

A BOY AND A SHOVEL (1886)

A young boy poses in the studio of Brown, Barnes and Bell for a portrait. He is wearing a knit sailor outfit and holding a toy shovel. The tool is most likely a studio prop and not revealing any information about the child. The photograph was taken in 1886 as determined by the logo on the reverse of the card. Richard Brown, Robert William Barnes and Joseph Bell built a dynasty of photographic studios that reached around the world. At the time of this photograph, the studio had locations in London, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, and New Castle. All of these studios were located in England so the international expansion had not begun yet. The studio advertised themselves as photographers to “Her Majesty The Queen” and the Prince of Wales, and several members of the Royal Family.